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Jan 14, 2019

Counter Offers – Why you shouldn't accept them

It happens more often that one would expect – employers, upon learning that one of their employees resigns, offering a package to exceed, or at least match, the offer the employee has received from their prospective new employer. Such offers do not necessarily have to be purely monetary – they could also revolve around a promotion, the company investing into the employee’s training and development, or more leave entitlement. To sweeten the deal, it is often a combination of both.

While it is relatively easy to weigh the value of monetary compensation – in the end, numbers are not difficult to compare – the employee often is in a bit of a pinch. A new employment comes with a probation period, there is the hassle of onboarding, and in the end, not everything that glitters is gold – and is the current employer really that bad, especially when there is a tangible increase to compensate for some of the present shortfalls? And so, the consideration begins – although the answer is, very often, quite clear: You should not accept a counter offer. Here is why:
  1. The trust is gone. This is, in most cases, the deal breaker. Let’s say you accept the counter offer and stay with your current employer – chances are that you are branded as someone who resigned once and therefore would do so again. In a time where skills and knowledge is as transient as never before, one of the core characteristics employers look in employees is loyalty, which, no matter how justified the reasons for your resignation are, will be perceived with quite a dent.
  1. Managers and culture don’t change that easily. The main cause of people leaving their jobs is often not inadequate remuneration, but a line manager that is not bearable or a toxic culture – both issues that are not fixed overnight, and specifically not because of the threat of a resignation. You might experience some short-lived immediate relief – suddenly your manager does remember your existence, and people are momentarily a bit friendlier – but as soon as this change came, the sooner it is likely to be reverted, only by then, you will not have another offer in hand anymore.
  1. Statistics don’t lie. Research and statistics suggests that more than half of the people who resigned and accepted a counter offer stay on for half a year or less before either resigning again or being laid off. Not much to say here really – it is the fruition of points 1 and 2.
  1. What about your mind? Many HR professionals have an unwritten policy about not negotiating with someone who resigned – because, in all honesty, it takes quite a leap to decide to resign. There is truth to that – you planned out everything, prepared for “The Talk”, signed the offer letter, typed up the resignation – and suddenly, you stay on? There is an emotional threshold that has to be crossed when resigning from a job, and once it is crossed, it is difficult to go back to normal. HR knows it, and let’s be honest, so do you.
  1. Change is good. We live in times that are tremendously different from the way things were a few decades ago. Spending years on end in the same job is not lauded as much as it was, and on the contrary, prospective employers might perceive your competencies to suffer if you don’t pursue honing them on new assignments. Furthermore, you will be able to grow your network tremendously by adding a lot of new coworkers and colleagues. Change is sometimes frightening, but often extremely rewarding!

Sometimes, we reach points in our careers at which we have to make difficult decisions – decisions that have major impact but are characterized by little certainty regarding the outcomes. In such cases, it is always the best to listen to one’s gut feeling, and never to never forget one credo: choosing between two options is better than having no option at all.

Tags: Counter Offers